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SERM. traitor issue from his own bosom; therefore did that XXXVI. whole nation, which he chiefly sought and laboured to save, conspire to persecute him, with most rancorous spite and cruel misusage.
Nature loveth plentiful accommodations, and abhorreth to be pinched with any want: therefore was extreme penury appointed to him; he had no revenue, no estate, no certain livelihood, not so much as a house where to lay his head, or a piece of money to Luke viii. 3. discharge the tax for it; he owed his ordinary sup
Matt. iii. 20. xvii. 25. xxi. 19.
port to alms, or voluntary beneficence; he was to seek his food from a fig tree on the way; and sometimes was beholden for it to the courtesy of publicans;
2 Cor. viii. di'μãs entwxevoe, he was, saith St. Paul, a beggar
Nature delighteth in ease, in quiet, in liberty therefore did he spend his days in continual labour, John iv. 6. in restless travel, in endless vagrancy, going about and doing good; ever hastening thither, whither the Acts x. 38. needs of men did call, or their benefit invite; there
Matt iv. 23. ix. 35.
Phil. ii. 7.
Luke xxii. fore did he take on him the form of a servant, and
Mark vi. 6. was among his own followers as one that ministereth; therefore he pleased not himself, but suited his demeanour to the state and circumstances of things, complied with the manners and fashions, comported with the humours and infirmities of men.
Nature coveteth good success to its designs and undertakings, hardly brooking to be disappointed and defeated in them: therefore was he put to water dry sticks and to wash negroes, that is, to instruct a most dull and stupid, to reform a most perverse and stubborn generation; therefore his ardent desires, his solicitous cares, his painful endeavours for the good of men did obtain so little fruit, had indeed a con
trary effect, rather aggravating their sins than re- SERM. moving them, rather hardening than turning their XXXVI. hearts, rather plunging them deeper into perdition, than rescuing them from it; therefore so much in vain did he, in numberless miraculous works, display his power and goodness, convincing few, converting fewer by them; therefore, although he taught with Luke iv. 22, most powerful authority, with most charming gracefulness, with most convincing evidence, yet, Who, Joh. xii. 38. could he say, hath believed our report? Though he most earnestly did invite and allure men to him, offering the richest boons that heaven itself could dis pense, yet, Ye will not, was he forced to say, come Joh. v. 49. unto me, that ye may be saved: although, with assiduous fervency of affection, he strove to reclaim them from courses tending to their ruin, yet how he prospered sad experience declareth, and we may learn from that doleful complaint, How often would Luke xiii. I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth 34. xix. 42. gather her brood under her wings, but ye would not! oùk éleλýσate, your will did not concur, your will did not submit.
In fine, natural will seeketh pleasure, and shunneth pain: but what pleasure did he taste? what inclination, what appetite, what sense did he gratify? How did he feast, or revel? How, but in tedious fastings, in Mark i. 13, frequent hungers, by passing whole nights in prayer Luke v. 16. and retirement for devotion upon the cold mountains? John iv. 6, What sports had he, what recreation did he take, but feeling incessant gripes of compassion, and wea- 23.xviii. 12. risome roving in quest of the lost sheep? In what conversation could he divert himself, but among those, whose doltish incapacity and forward humour did wring from his patience those words, How long Matt. xvii.
Luke vi. 12.
SERM. shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? XXXVI. What music did he hear? What but the rattlings of
clamorous obloquy, and furious accusations against him? To be desperately maligned, to be insolently mocked; to be styled a king, and treated as a slave; to be spit on, to be buffeted, to be scourged, to be drenched with gall, to be crowned with thorns, to be nailed to a cross; these were the delights which our Lord enjoyed, these the sweet comforts of his life and the notable prosperities of his fortune: such a portion was allotted to him, the which he did accept from God's hand with all patient submission, with perfect contentedness, with exceeding alacrity, never repining at it, never complaining of it, never flinching from it, or fainting under it; but proceeding on in the performance of all his duty and prosecution of his great designs with undaunted courage, with unwearied industry, with undisturbed tranquillity and satisfaction of mind.
Had indeed his condition and fortune been otherwise framed; had he come into the world qualified with a noble extraction; had he lived in a splendid equipage; had he enjoyed a plentiful estate and a fair reputation; had he been favoured and caressed by men; had he found a current of prosperous success; had safety, ease, and pleasure waited on him; where had been the pious resignation of his will, where the precious merit of his obedience, where the glorious lustre of his example? How then had our frailty in him become victorious over all its enemies; how had he triumphed over the solicitations and allurements of the flesh, over the frowns and flatteries of the world, over the malice and fury of hell? How then could he have so demonstrated his
immense charity toward us, or laid so mighty obli- SERM. gations upon us?
Such in general was the case, and such the deportment of our Lord: but there was somewhat peculiar, and beyond all this occurring to him, which drew forth the words of our text: God had tempered for him a potion of all the most bitter and loathsome ingredients that could be; a drop whereof no man ever hath, or could endure to sip; for he was not only to undergo whatever load human rage could impose, of ignominious disgrace and grievous pain; but to feel dismal agonies of spirit, and those unknown sufferings, which God alone could inflict, God only could sustain: Behold, and see, he might Lam. i. 12. well say, if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me; wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger? He was to labour with pangs of charity, and through his heart to be pierced with deepest commiseration of our wretched case: he was to crouch under the burden of all the sins (the numberless most heinous sins and abominations) ever committed by mankind: he was to pass through the hottest furnace of divine vengeance, and by his blood to quench the wrath of heaven flaming out against iniquity: he was to stand, as it were, before the mouth of hell, belching fire and brimstone on his face his grief was to supply the defects of our remorse, and his suffering in those few moments to countervail the eternal torments due to us: he was to bear the hiding of God's face, and an eclipse of that favourable aspect, in which all bliss doth reside; a case which he that so perfectly understood, could not but infinitely resent: · Δι ̓ ἀγνώστων σου παθημάτων ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς Κύριε. Lit. Gr.
SERM. these things with the clearest apprehension he saw XXXVI. coming on him; and no wonder that our nature started at so ghastly a sight, or that human instinct should dictate that petition, Father, if thou wilt, let this cup pass from me; words implying his most real participation of our infirmity; words denoting the height of those sad evils which encompassed him, with his lively and lowly resentment of them; words informing us, how we should entertain God's chastisements, and whence we must seek relief of our pressures, (that we should receive them, not with a scornful neglect or sullen insensibility, but with a meek contrition of soul; that we should entirely depend on God's pleasure for support under them, or a releasement from them;) words which, in conjunction with those following, do shew how instantly we should quash and overrule any insurrection of natural desire against the command or providence of God. We must not take that prayer to signify any purpose in our Lord to shift off his passion, or any wavering in resolution about it; for he could not anywise mean to undo that, which he knew done with God before the world's foundation; he would not unsettle that, which was by his own free undertaking and irreversible decree: he that so often with satisfaction did foretell this event, who with so earnest desire longed for its approach; who with that sharpness of indignation did rebuke his friend offering to divert him from it; who did again repress St. Peter's animosity with that serious exJohn xviii. postulation, The cup which my Father hath given
me, shall I not drink it? who had advisedly laid such trains for its accomplishment, would he decline d Επιθυμίᾳ ἐπεθύμησα. Luke xxii. 15.